The Terps are rather thin in the defensive backfield with only one returning starter and several imminent departures before the 2016 campaign even begins. Thus, new head coach D.J. Durkin and Co. have been looking to add depth, and potentially an immediate contributor, prior to summer camp.
One name that has surfaced in recent weeks is Duke safety transfer Evrett Edwards, who will graduate later this year and have two years of eligibility remaining. Edwards, who can play as soon as next season, is a former three-star out of Woodbridge (Va.) and now stands 5-feet-11, 190-pounds. He redshirted his first season in Durham, N.C., and played in 12 total games the next two years, racking up 20 tackles; a pick; and two breakups.
Thus far, Edwards has officially visited Troy, Iowa State and Utah State and has one final trip set for Maryland April 29-30 before choosing his next destination sometime in early May.
“Those are the four schools I’m looking at, and all four have scholarships for me,” said Edwards, who is pursuing a post-football career in politics and will graduate with a degree in international comparative studies. “I’ve seen Troy, Iowa State and Utah State, and now I just have to get back to Maryland before I sit down; go over my notes; and come to a decision.
“Right now, all four schools are even and I haven’t made up my mind with anything. I get handwritten notes all the time from those schools, and I honestly haven’t even looked at them. I want to sit down with a clear mind after I visit Maryland, go over everything, and then assess the situation and where I best fit in.”
Edwards has actually been in College Park, Md., a couple times before. At Woodbridge, which is in the shadows of UMD, he trekked up with his teammates on a couple occasions for camps and practices. But he was most recently on campus in March while on spring break.
“I was back home in Woodbridge, and I just decided to stick my nose in and see what was up,” Edwards said. “I saw them practice, I briefly spoke to the coaches -- one coach actually spotted me – and then I got back on the road. But it was nice to get back there and see what was going on at Maryland. You know, [the Terps] aren’t in the ACC anymore, so we [Duke] didn’t get to see them, so I just wanted to go up there and see the coaches and watch a practice.
“And I thought it was definitely a place I could play. I like their style, their defense and I know they need DBs. And I live 45 south in northern Virginia, so it’s close to home.”
The versatile Duke defensive back said he specifically talked to defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and receivers’ coach Chris Beatty. He knows both staffers from back in his high school days.
“Coach Beatty and Coach Aazaar are two guys I’m familiar with. Coach Beatty recruited me when he was at Wisconsin and knew me from that, and I actually worked out with Coach Aazaar when he was at Friendship [Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C.],” Edwards said. “It was good to talk to Coach Beatty again, because I haven’t seen him in a good while. And same with Coach Aazaar. He was saying how they need DBs there and how I could make an impact there.”
Besides his prior relationship with a couple UMD coaches and College Park’s close proximity to home, Edwards noted Maryland’s Big Ten affiliation. Two of the safety/corner’s other three suitors do not play in power-five conferences.
“Maryland is a Big Ten school, and that’s a great opportunity and a great conference,” Edwards said. “You know, we [Duke] just played a Big Ten program in the Pinstripe Bowl, where we beat Indiana. So I got a little taste of Big Ten ball from that.”
Although Edwards was just in College Park recently, he said he wanted to return so “I could have the rest of my questions answered.” He said he wants to speak to head coach D.J. Durkin and get a true feel for the Maryland program.
“I want to look the coaches in the face and get answers,” Edwards said. “I want to know they’re not giving me the old ‘okie doke’ type of deal and being truthful with me (laughs). And I want to see exactly where I’ll fit in and how I’ll fit in.”
Edwards went on to comment on his three previous officials.
Utah State: Utah State was really nice. I sat down and talked with the coaches in the film room and walked through the defense. I saw exactly where I fit in, and they said I could play nickel, corner and safety there. They'll be able to play me at a lot of different spots, which I liked. Also, it was beautiful out there, just seeing the Rockies. That's a gorgeous site to wake up to every day. It's a great place to be.
Iowa State: Iowa State was a great visit and I really enjoyed it. It was good to see familiar faces from the DMV out there like D'Andre Payne and a couple coaches I know. Also, they run a 4-2-5 defense, which is the system I was in at Duke, so I'm very comfortable there. I got a great feel for the coaches too and what the program is about. I really liked them.
Troy: Troy was the same as Utah State in that I had a chance to sit down with all the coaches and see where I fit in. I got a great assessment of the program and how they'd use me. It was a good trip.
After his 48-hour stay in College Park, Edwards should be ready to announce his future destination in the coming days. He said there are three factors in particular he’ll be concentrating on.
“First and foremost, trustworthiness. Can I trust these people for the next 1.5 years?” Edwards said. “Secondly, playing time. And third, am I comfortable there on campus and with the defense? Those are the main things for me right now.”